The confusion for the public about whether it is ultrasound or sonography, sonographer or ultrasound tech has done the profession a disservice. The lay-person, and even many medical professionals, do not understand the sophisticated process that is sonography. It is different from simple “eye-hand coordination”. When a couple has an obstetrical sonographic study, they see the sonographer simply slide the “plastic thing on a cable” over the abdomen and these recognizable images appear on the monitor. There are even nurses and physicians who watch this process in the hands of a skilled sonographer and think, “I know anatomy, I can do this”, but they do not realize the complex cognitive and psychomotor skills that the sonographer must have to make it look simple.
Historically, ultrasound was the word used to identify the modality. Originally the word ultrasound was used as a noun to identify acoustic energy with a frequency above the average human’s hearing. Later the use of ultrasound as a noun was expanded to include the images and procedures, as in “I am going to perform your ultrasound. Ultrasound also became a verb, as in “please ultrasound Ms. Jones’s gallbladder”.
If sonographers do not use these terms correctly, then it’s likely that no one else will either. Hospital and clinic signage should say “Sonography (Ultrasound)” as so many currently have signs that say “Radiology (X-Ray).” The accurate use of these words does make a difference in how people will think about the profession. It is this specific linguistic use of terms that makes doctors want to be called “Doctor”, and nurses want to be called “Nurse”, and the reason corporations trademark their product names. It is a matter of “branding” so that the public knows specifically what a name means.